Ace of Base: 2018 Mini Cooper Hardtop 2-Door
The rebooted Mini brand was launched nearly 20 years ago, an alarming reminder of the relentless march of time and my own rapidly disappearing hairline. Since its introduction, when it competed for customer cash during the retro boom, the brand has grown into a full line of cars, ranging from the original Hardtop to plug-in hybrids and the oddly lumpy Clubman.
Far from its humble roots, it is now possible to spend north of $50,000 on a Mini in 2018. How does the base model stack up at less than half that price? Let’s find out.
Starting at $21,600 sans destination fees, the least costly Cooper is available in any color you want … as long as it’s Moonwalk Grey. Every other color – from Electric Blue to British Racing Green – will cost an extra $500 at minimum. Still, a trio of exterior trims are available for $0.
Under the retro hood is a boosted 1.5-liter inline-three whose turbocharging and direct injection are good for 134 horsepower at a reasonable 4,400 rpm. Even more appealing for around-town drivers, all 162 lb-ft of torque from the three angry squirrels comes online at a barely-off-idle 1,250 rpm. Equipped with a six-speed manual, the Hardtop should make 60 mph from a standstill in about 7.5 seconds. A tidy 98.2-inch wheelbase and quick-ratio electric steering means the Cooper darts around like hyperactive cats on a hot tin roof.
Occupants of the Cooper won’t be hot, as air conditioning is standard equipment on the cheapest of Minis, even seeing fit to vent some of its cold air into the glovebox to create a quasi-cooler for drinks. Luxuries like one-touch power windows, heated mirrors, and automatic headlamps are all on tap. Bluetooth infotainment and handy USB charging are along for the ride, too
A snazzy start/stop button awaits the itchy trigger finger of its driver, along with a backup camera and a raft of airbags. In another good turn for new drivers, every new Mini comes standard with a comprehensive maintenance program, covering scheduled service stops for the first three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Given that much of America currently resembles the planet Hoth, it’s worth noting Mini gives customers the option of selecting all-season tires for $0 in place of the standard performance-oriented hoops. They’re 15 inches in diameter, by the way, keeping future replacement costs from climbing into the upper stratosphere.
So a true Ace of Base, then? Not quite. I’d spring for the $100 white turn signal kit, which swaps the standard amber turn signals for a clear set, removing the stock units which resemble infected tear ducts. Still, considering the level of standard equipment and the dose of unique style it provides, one can certainly think of worse cars on which to spend $21,600.
Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make our automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you’d like to see in our series? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.
The model above is shown with American options and is priced in Freedom Dollars. As always, your dealer will probably sell for less.
[Images: BMW Group]
Jerome10 on Jan 03, 2018
I loved the original S that I had driven. The zippy nature and the burbling on deceleration. Car was a blast, but price and reliability concerns kept me from pulling the trigger. I don't know about these new ones, I don't have a MINI dealer near me anyway, but if they still have that beat-the-snot-outta-me-please feel, I could see this being a solid selection for Ace of Base. Something about those cars in a Miata-type way but somehow seemed to be even more fun despite FWD and all that jazz.
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